Creating a new joint culture means showing respect for the uniqueness of each organization. It’s all about creating a shared mission and common values. It’s about being willing to learn best practices from one another and appreciating all of the caregivers.
Health systems need to be more than just a common name and logo. They need to really know and show the value of the integration – caregivers, patients and the community need to be at center of these plans and communications.
Some keys to success are:
1.) Put together a good team to handle the transaction.
2.) Think big but plan to the smallest details. Senior leaders should keep an eye on the big picture yet remain flexible to ensure critical details are discussed.
3.) Get aligned by discussing the two cultures, strategic priorities, leadership styles, workforce policies.
4.) Communicate a compelling vision and share the goals for the short and long-term.
This is a tough situation. Employee conflict is important to deal with swiftly and directly. It’s important to monitor the health of your team dynamics and try to minimize the drama. If you notice the issues, it’s most certain that others on your team could feel “caught in the middle.” All of this can negatively impact your productivity, team morale, and even your company’s reputation.
Ask yourself these questions, “Is this situation impacting the work we’re all doing?” and “How is this situation impacting the work environment, both for those two involved and for others around them?” These are important to honestly think about and reflect on.
You don’t need your team members to be best friends; however, you do need them to be pleasant and professional, to work together productively, and to not create a tense or unpleasant work environment. Your feedback should be focused on their individual contributions and productivity, not on their personal feelings toward each other. Talk explicitly about how you expect team members to relate with each other and when needed, speak to them privately and respectfully when you see behavior that doesn’t match up with what you want.
Is it possible to have them each work on separate projects? If they must work together, here’s some helpful advice:
1.) Talk with them individually about your observations. It’s important to understand their reasons for acting the way they are.
2.) Set clear expectations in terms of how they need to behave toward one another. Employees must put their personal differences aside and build a productive working relationship to drive business success. Be clear on behavior that will and will not be tolerated and outline how it has affected their performance. Keep things business oriented.
3.) Make these two employees accountable for suggestions on what needs to be done to improve their working relationship.
4.) Refocus their attention on their important work and the overall value it brings to the organization.
Bottom line: Don’t ignore this situation in hopes that it will go away. It sounds like it will need intervention to be resolved. Good luck!
Fixing a broken culture requires significantly improving basic business performance. The big unknown is whether or not your demoralized employees will step up and join in the change. Corporate culture starts at the top.
Here are some strategies to follow:
1.) Define the culture. Improving your culture starts first with doing an honest assessment of who you are and then defining who you want to be. Since culture change starts at the top, ensure your leadership team can agree on the few words that describe the culture they want to build to turnaround business performance.
2.) Plan the culture. Your culture plan should be in writing, with key initiatives spelled out and accompanied by targets, deliverables, milestones and key performance indicators. Establish a new cultural values framework. What does cultural progress look like? Can you come up with a theme or slogan that clearly articulates the new energy/direction of the company?
3.) Communicate the culture. Every employee needs to know some key things: where we are, where we are going, why it matters, what’s my role, and what’s in it for me. Every leader needs direct engagement with employees – face to face is always ideal, but not practical, but try face to face town halls, video conference and small group discussions. Give a business update, talk about your culture agenda, trends in health care in the area, and seek honest feedback about your company. Be sure to ask for feedback after your engagements. Share what you learn from the organization, with the organization. Soon everyone will know that, yes, your feedback is being heard.
4.) Amplify the culture. Continually take actions that amplify your culture change. The more you amplify, the quicker you can change your culture. For example, are your leaders credible? Is the company mission still suitable? Can you connect with employees on a more personal level? Are programs in place to praise and recognize excellence? Are your performance review and compensation programs aligned with your new culture?
5.) Live the culture. Leaders must lead by example and ensure their words about the corporate culture match their actions. You can’t just speak about the cultural values, you need to live them. Then, it’s important to set the expectation that each employee is also going to be held accountable to cultural values, and it’s important to assess your progress. Show employees that you value and support them and they in turn, will give their best effort.
Drug overdoses claimed 64,000 American lives in 2016 — more lives than the AIDS epidemic at its height and up 22 percent from just a year before. In Delaware, 308 people died from overdoses in 2016, compared to 228 in the previous year. The opioid epidemic is a major catastrophe hitting our community, according to Terry Horton, M.D., FACP, FASAM, chief of the Division of Addiction Medicine and associate physician leader of the Behavioral Health Service Line at Christiana Care Health System.
Dr. Horton says addiction is a brain disease. Like other diseases, medical science offers tools that can help. Christiana Care Health System is a national leader in identifying and implementing these tools. As Dr. Horton and his colleagues work to help patients in Delaware overcome their addiction, he also works to build understanding nationally about the nature of the problem and teaches others how to meet these challenges in their own communities.
Christiana Care is adapting to the ongoing opioid crisis in its hospitals and in the community. This work includes a groundbreaking opioid withdrawal clinical pathway —which screens hospital admissions to find people going through withdrawal and connects them with resources to overcome their addiction. It also includes efforts to reduce opioid prescription, increase access to care, enhance care for infants and families impacted by opioids and much more.
Christiana Care’s opioid withdrawal clinical pathway is a medical road map which helps the hospital care team to better identify patients at risk for opioid addiction and guide them into effective treatment. Today, almost all patients admitted to the hospital are screened for withdrawal and evaluated for buprenorphine and discharge to a community provider. The hospital is a reachable moment. With the right tools, methods and staff, we are able to help identify those with substance use disorders, engage them by addressing withdrawal and facilitate their transition to community-based treatment. Among the processes and tools of the clinical pathway is a simple screening tool developed at Christiana Care that consists of two questions:
• “Have you used heroin or prescription pain medicines other than prescribed in the last week?”
• “Do you get sick if you don’t use heroin, methadone or prescription pain medications?”
Patients who answer “yes” to either question are entered into the pathway and systematically evaluated using the Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale (COWS) to look for signs including restlessness, chills, flushing, tremors, runny nose, vomiting and diarrhea, which may indicate opioid withdrawal.
Additionally, Christiana Care Health System’s Project Engage is a rapidly expanding program that saves lives and money by engaging people with substance abuse problems at the hospital bedside and linking them with resources in the community that can put them on the path to wellness.
In the program, engagement specialists counsel patients and encourage them to go directly into treatment when they leave the hospital. Their mission is to remove barriers to care by arranging for placement in treatment programs, as well as such basic needs as food, clothing and shelter. If they need a ride to treatment, we will give them a bus pass — or drive them there.
The healthcare industry is growing to understand the importance of reducing stress and increasing engagement. And they’re doing that through building impressive cultures.
Companies with strong organizational cultures put their people first, not their customers. This might sound odd for health care where we’re focused on the patient, but the fact is, only medical professionals who care for themselves both physically and mentally, can do effective work. That’s where culture comes in.
Creating a strong workplace culture takes time, planning and patience. Health care leaders must work to create a comfortable and supportive environment for their caregivers. There must be a shared vision, strong communication, and committed leadership.
Leaders must spend time outlining their goals and then find ways to effectively communicate and engage caregivers around those goals. It’s not a “one and done.” It’s a continuous engagement through various channels such as town halls, small group discussions, motivational emails, etc.
Culture is the general vibe or feel of the workplace. It’s often a reflection on how employees interact with each other and with patients. But, leaders can also help to shape a strong culture of appreciation, support and community. Here are a few ideas:
1.) Communication is usually the most important part of the corporate culture plan. Caregivers need to know the company’s goals and why they matter. They need to hear regularly from leaders.
2.) Teamwork and collaboration are essential to encouraging an environment of trust and camaraderie.
3.) Customer Service and doing the best possible job for the patient should always be emphasized.
4.) Recognition and praise for a job well done helps build a culture of respect and motivates people to strive for excellence.
Sir William Osler, FRS FRCP, one of the four founding professors of Johns Hopkins Hospital said, “The good physician treats the disease; the great physician treats the patient who has the disease.” Being a physician is much more than diagnosing and treating patients, it’s demonstrating compassionate patient care and a commitment to those patients. So beyond the degrees and training, physicians need soft skills – people skills or interpersonal skills. Research shows that soft skills such as communications and positive attitude and empathy are crucial to the success of a health system. Helping physicians sharpen their soft skills can be challenging.
In order to truly teach soft skills, take learning outside of the classroom. A blended approach is best, with peer-to-peer discussions and leader-led scenarios. You can talk about how to empathize with a patient and effectively communicate their treatment options, but until a physician has the interaction with a live person, they will not fully grasp the skill.
When teaching soft skills, it’s almost always better to teach (and practice) one at a time. Role playing can be very effective for this.
When you bring physicians together to talk about effective communications, active listening, building trust and respect, these soft skills become abstract concepts that can cause learners to lose interest.
So, in peer to peer discussions or leader-led scenarios, focus on one topic at a time, and give actionable steps that learners can put to practice immediately. Instead of saying, “you need to listen better,” try “to become a better listener, it’s important to repeat three vital points back to the person you’re speaking with.” Instead of saying, “try to be more mindful,” try “it’s important to be mindful when talking with patients. Really give them your undivided attention. This means looking them in the eye and being fully present in the room with them. Watch for cues on what might really be happening.”
Discussions and clear suggestions for words and actions will help to solidify soft skills and give learners something to grasp.